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News in brief - Date: 03 April 2020
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Police Minister Bheki Cele has welcomed the revisions by the National Command Council of the lockdown regulations and has taken time to elaborate on those aspects of the regulations that seemed to have caused confusion among the public.
With the second weekend of the lockdown around the corner, Cele has contextualised the relaxation of the regulations insofar as movement between provinces and travelling to and from funerals are concerned.
“We have been inundated with volumes of calls from families seeking clarification or intervention or sometimes even permits relating to travelling to the funerals of their loved ones,” said Cele in a press release issued this morning by the Ministry of Police.
Amendments to the regulations now allow certain individuals to move between provinces, metropolitan and district areas for purposes of transporting a body for burial. Meanwhile, certain categories of individuals closely related to the deceased are permitted to travel to funerals.
According to the regulations, persons travelling for the purpose of a burial/cremation may obtain a permit to travel, from a magistrate or from a police station commander or his/her designated representative on provision of a death certificate or a certified copy thereof. Also important is for the individual seeking a permit to give their date of return that will reflect on the permit.
Furthermore, the limit on number of people in attendance at a funeral remains 50 to maintain the effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Night vigils are still strictly prohibited for the duration of the lockdown.
On the issue of “spaza shops”, an instruction will be issued to the more than 24 000 members on deployment from the SAPS, SANDF, Metro Police and other law-enforcement agencies, to understand that all spaza shops and informal food traders with the necessary permits from the relevant municipality will be allowed to operate.
In response to another area of confusion, Cele clarified and emphasised that cigarettes are not an essential item and that the sale thereof is prohibited across the country.
“What has been a dampener since the beginning of the lockdown has been the consistently high number of people arrested for violating the lockdown regulations,” said Cele, citing 2 298 arrests just on 30 March. By close of business on 31 March, the total number of arrests had reached more than 17 000 since the kick-off of the lockdown.
The provincial breakdown of arrests are Gauteng (1 888), Western Cape (4 769), KwaZulu Natal (1 845), Eastern Cape (1 613), Northern Cape (832), North West (1 562), Free State (3 098), Mpumalanga (752) and Limpopo (850). The total is 17 209, with the offences varying between transport-related offences, liquor-related and general non-compliance with the regulations. “Ideally, we would prefer that our communities and all stakeholders cooperate and comply to minimise the risk of exposure of both themselves as well as our 24 389 law-enforcement members to the COVID-19,” said Cele. He added that members of the SAPS, the SANDF, Metro Police Departments and all law-enforcement agencies would remain on deployment throughout the lockdown period. “The laws of the country must be upheld,” said Cele.
Police minister General Bheki Cele.